x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

A day in the life of a marathon runner

A personal take on the 2013 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Jan 25 2013, 2013 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon,- The National's RJ Mickelson after the completing the marathon in 4 hours and 20 min in the 2013 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon i Jan 25, 2013. Mike Young / The National
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Jan 25 2013, 2013 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon,- The National's RJ Mickelson after the completing the marathon in 4 hours and 20 min in the 2013 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon i Jan 25, 2013. Mike Young / The National

5.30am After slowly waking up, following a quick bird bath, I consume a full litre of water, granola bar and some peanut butter banana bread prepared by a fellow runner.

5.55am Brush teeth, apply sunscreen/suncream application (anticipating a 4+ hour exposure to the Arabian sun), sneakers laced up and head out to the start of the race.

6.15am Arrive at the event, feel both excitement and tension in the brisk, humid air.

6.35am Drop off my personal bag and periodically stretch. I'm noticing a diversity of ethnicity and cultures I have not seen at previous races. It's an interesting make-up of competitors.

7.15am Start of the race, some deep breaths and a focus on the task at hand.

7.30am Along with thousands of other runners, I've helped create a massive traffic jam through downtown Dubai. Drivers and passengers have exited their cars and are taking photos of the wave of running bodies keeping them from their destination.

7.45am Make my way through a thick blanket of fog covering the course, making this more like a 'Fog-a-thon'.

8.45am Cross the halfway mark of the race at 21k, gaining some inspiration from a sign which simply reads "Run, Run, Run" … it was a pleasant reminder as to why I was there.

9.30am A range of emotions running through me from patience to determination. The training I've put in has helped, but it is both humbling and discouraging to be overtaken by someone twice my age and in possession of a noticeable limp.

10am My pace has slowed incredibly. My mind and body aren't saying "You've got this, you're the man". They are saying, "You should stop right now".

10.30am At 30k, left and right, marathoners have stopped running, started walking, gripping their shorts and have begun searching for reserves of energy to get them through - all hypothetical, of course.

11.35am With 1km to go, my hamstrings cramp and I'm limping and lunging with every breath. This is my Chariots of Fire moment.

11.40am Sprint towards the line as the crowd goes wild (possibly imagined), finishing in 4:22!

RJ Mickleson is a sports photo editor at The National

rjmickelson@thenational.ae